Thursday, April 19, 2018

Official meet results were posted, and I'm having some feelings

I’ve been having a rough training week so far, since we’ve switched into a faster/high-rep phase, and I’m still stuck on heavier/slower mode (story of my life, lol) but I wanted to share this because 1) it cheers me up, and 2) it reminds me why I need to tough this out: because even though I did really well, I still have more to work for.

Rankings are based on Wilks scores
Official meet results were posted (in yellow/white above), which means YAY I’M OFFICIAL!!!! Which was ultimately my main goal in the first place (show up, survive the day).

And also, I’m now listed on openpowerlifting.org, which is a really cool site if you like looking at numbers and rankings. As of this morning, I’m 127th among all USPA Raw female lifters (the skinny middle part of the picture), and I’m in the top ten for my weight class (bottom part of the picture) 😁 Like, in the entire country.

I’m FLOORED. I am not being falsely modest, I swear. I kid you not, that I was not sporty growing up. (People who have known me/followed me for a while, you know this.) I have always been larger, slower, and reluctant. No one would have ever looked at me when I was younger and said “She could be pretty good at SOME sport.” I mean, some people might look at me NOW and not think that about me, because they still think that "fit" and "athletic" are indicated by a certain aesthetic (e.g., not fat), particularly if you're a woman, and I'm pretty sure that I do not "look like" an athlete.

But hey, the numbers are there. Like, officially there :)

This whole thing--training, the meet, the attention I've gotten, the sponsorship--has been a huge whirlwind for me, and I'm still not quite sure how to process all of it. I mean, aside from JUST KEEP DOING THE WORK. I'm not lying when I say that when I train, I just kind of keep my head down and go through my workout. I don't know anything about the WORLD of powerlifting as a sport; I only know how to do the movements. Until now, I had no idea where I ranked among other powerlifters, because yeah, I know my numbers are high, but following people like Stefi Cohen, Gina Aversa, Kim Walford, etc., on Instagram has a way of making me feel like my numbers aren't really all that special in comparison. (And yeah, I've talked about this whole comparison effect before, a lot.)

So, yeah, I don't like to spend a whole lot of time thinking about where I am in comparison to other people, and when someone says to me, "I don't think you realize how strong you are," I'm like, "I really don't! I just show up and do my thing!" and maybe it's better that way, because it keeps me grounded. In the end, it doesn't matter where my results place me, but it DOES matter whether I can honestly say that I tried my best and that I put in the work. It DOES matter whether I've shown respect to my fellow lifters and gratitude to my coaches, the officials, and the volunteers. What matters is what I continue to do on a consistent basis, not what I did that one time.

But just for a minute, let me revel in the fact that this nerdy, awkward fat girl found a sport that she likes and that she is good at :) I'm sure the numbers will change with every meet that gets recorded. I will be bumped up or down or whatever, I'm sure. But for now, I will enjoy this and use it as motivation to keep on keepin' on. This week back has been rough for me, and I've spent all week doubting myself (picture me comically tearing my hair out, like, What is wroooooong with me??), but seeing this motivates me, because it shows me that these hard days, these workouts that focus on the things I suck at... they have a purpose. They have an effect. And that effect is illustrated pretty clearly in those numbers. I need to do the things I'm bad at, so I can get better at the things I'm good at.

So yeah, things are going to be hard for me, for a while. But I just need to keep reminding myself...


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

I'm a Muscle & Mirth athlete!

Hey friends and fam!

Since I last blogged, exciting developments have taken place that I've discussed on my social media, but not officially here, so here goes: I have signed on with athlete apparel brand Muscle & Mirth as a brand ambassador!

We've been talking for the past couple of months, and I've been getting to know them as a brand (and getting to know the owners and other Team M&M athletes), and I really like what they stand for. I like the message they put forth, and the designs they create, and I feel like we mesh well. I am excited and proud to represent their brand.

One of the awesome things about being a member of Team M&M is that I get to design a shirt to be sold through their website, so I am beyonnnnnnnd thrilled to share with you all my shirt!!

As I shared on Instagram: as an athlete, a woman, an educator, a human being living in this world, it is a core value of mine to do all I can to build others up, rather than tear people down. Instead of criticizing (not to be confused with critiquing), instead of making people feel awful, instead of zeroing in on flaws and weaknesses, let's uplift. Let's empower. Let's bring out the best in each other, instead of letting out the worst in ourselves. Let's help each other get stronger, together.

So, I'm not going to get all sales-y on you constantly, but if you feel so inclined to pick up one of my shirts (or any of the awesome shirts M&M makes), please head over to their website and be sure to use my code "acciobeastmode" to let them know I sent you :)

My shirts are available in ladies sizing in dark gray (above) or in unisex sizing in red:


Thanks for reading, and thank you to Muscle & Mirth for taking me on!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Meet recap: USPA Drug-Tested Oregon Outlaw Open in Sisters, OR (April 7, 2018)

One of my favorite quotes is the following from Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass:
“You could rattle the stars. You could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That’s what scares you most.”
There's even a bracelet I wear every day with that first sentence stamped on it. I look at these words constantly, and I love their message but I've never really, truly internalized them and fit them into the context of my own life.

That is, until several weeks ago, when my coach Jeron had a heart-to-heart with me via text about training for this meet. It's no secret that I struggle with even just showing up and making training a priority. I was supposed to start training in early January, but I had a difficult time getting things rolling (because of illness/motivation/time/whatever--you know me, it's always something, right?), and I finally managed to build up some momentum, but I was worried about being behind on training because of what I'd already missed, and what sort of numbers I could still manage to hit at this meet.

Anyway, he told me to stop worrying about numbers and to just trust the process. "If you can put in the work consistently, like, just show up and complete your workouts, you will be unstoppable."

And I took that to heart. I stared at his words on my phone, and I stared at the words on the metal bracelet on my wrist, and I swore in that moment to make training consistently a priority. I made an effort to let go of whatever fear I might have been carrying in the back of my mind, and I decided that I would indeed give it everything I had in the time I had left, and see where that would take me. I wanted to see if I could rattle the stars.

And I gave it my all, for sure. Barring a few accessory sets here and there (that I had to skip because I ripped my hand open), I did everything he planned for me, not giving up or taking shortcuts, even when all I wanted to do was go home and lie on the floor. I stopped letting myself make excuses, and I just showed up, and once I was there, I took as long as I had to to finish every single thing on the list.

At some point, a switch flipped in my head, and That Voice stopped saying "Uh, I don't know if I can make it today," and started saying,"But I don't WANT to skip today!" And lo and behold, I became the type of person who arranges to train while on vacation during Spring Break :D (Is that what being an athlete is?)

Also, worth noting, I decided not to try to drop weight to make it into the 198-lb class, even though I'm pretty close. I figured I could still make a decent showing in SHW (Super Heavyweight), and I just did not need one more thing to stress about. It was enough to train, to keep myself healthy, and to get myself to the platform in once piece.

And yeah, I was nervous. I think I must have a nervous temperament in general, but even thinking about the meet was keeping me awake at night. It wasn't until we got to our peak week and I hit a 475 back squat that I really saw, like, actual real proof that everything I was doing was working. I trusted the process, and it was paying off big time.

But of course, I had to be able to do it where it REALLY counted--on the official platform, in front of the official judges, to be recorded as official results.

Yep, HERE
And here we are. I've been a MESS this past week. I was a mess at the meet. People always tell me I look so calm when I lift (and between lifts), but internally, I'm a swirling maelstrom of stress and emotions. My heart rate is like, sky high, and I'm struggling to breathe because I need to slow it down and also because sitting in a chair with a stiff leather belt cinched around my middle is not particularly comfortable, and my brain is going over all of the stupid ways I could tragically eff this up for myself after all of the hard work I've put into it.

This was not my first EVER meet, but it's my first USPA meet, so in addition to personal goals (PRs, recording an official total, PERIOD), I've had it in my head that I'd like to try to break some records. The drug-tested division of USPA is relatively new, so I have a chance to get my name in there. So that was an added Thing On My Mind. And I'd be lying if I said that earning a medal wasn't also a Thing On My Mind. I tried to remind myself that stuff like that is useless to worry about anyway, because it's beyond my control who else shows up to compete and how well they perform, but, you know, in the famous words of Helen Keller, "One cannot consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar." Go big or go home, right? Worry worry worry. Stress stress stress.

I put a lot of pressure on myself, and a lot of people had been telling me they couldn't wait to see how I would do (in a nice way), and so all these high expectations were just pinging around inside me, the weight of them pressing on my insides. I was literally very close to crying while sitting there waiting for my first squat, not because of fear or panic, but because I really needed to just release some emotion, and yelling or running laps would sap too much energy. (I think I didn't let myself because I didn't want to freak anyone out.)

But aside from what was happening inside my head, things were good, actually. I felt prepared. And aside from lack of sleep, I felt healthy. If you recall, for my first-ever meet two years ago, I was struggling with so much knee pain going into it, and I was worried that would happen again (as if my knee had some sort of weight limit), but peak week put me at ease about that for sure, because that big squat was perfectly pain-free. My torn callus had healed, so I was good to go for deadlifts. Physically, I am the strongest I have ever been, even if mentally and emotionally I was... not so much.

Also, I was there among teammates (from both gyms that I train with--more about that later), and I basically trust Jeron with my life at this point, so I knew I would be taken care of. I just needed to keep doing what I've been doing all along: LIFT THE BAR. Repeat 8 more times. Trust the process. Trust my gear. Trust my training. Trust myself.

Here's how it went:

Friday, April 6, 2018

Shake the table.

Alea iacta est. The die is cast.

The phrase goes back to when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon and marched on Rome. It was a moment, he meant, from which there was no going back.

The die had been cast, he said, and no power of man could prevent it from landing where it would. A roll of the dice is unpredictable, unstoppable.

We have cast our die as well. We have chosen our tactics, we have chosen our champions, and now we go to battle. But the die is still in the air. I do not believe what we do here today is predetermined and cannot be changed.

There is a moment just after the die is cast and before it lands upon the gaming table in which the smallest breeze may change its course—the way it rolls and where it comes to rest.

That is what we must do today. We must give our all to ensure that when the die does come to rest, it favors us.

None of us are perfect. But we have the opportunity to determine our fates day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, with the choices we make and the actions we take.

The die is cast. But today we will shake the table upon which it lands.

(Text adapted from the novel Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff)